By: Kristina Bravo
Most of us would avoid coming face-to-face with an ocean predator—but these conservationists put their fears aside to save a shark’s life.
After beach patrollers released a tiger shark trapped at a drumline—a floating hook installed offshore to reduce shark attacks—activists on three boats saw the predator flip over and sink below the surface. The boaters rushed to the wounded fish, and to revive it, they swam with it for an hour and a half.
“We kept tickling it under the chin and moving it to help get the oxygen into its system,” Animal Amnesty’s Amy-Lea Wilkins told Perth Now. “It wasn’t particularly dangerous. We could see the shark was close to death and it was a matter of everyone taking turns.”
Some of the 15 rescuers were on-site to document Western Australia’s controversial culling program, which places drumlines off popular beaches and hires fishermen to track and kill sharks. The local government enacted it in January following a series of fatal attacks.
Culling outrages many, including New Zealand scientist Riley Elliot. Questioning just how many animals had been set free by patrollers only to die later, he told the website, “This entire policy to protect the beaches came about to save tourism because everyone feared the sharks.”
Rescuer Ocean Ramsey said, “The Fisheries guys just don’t know how to handle the animals.” She was part of a film crew following the boat patrolling the drumlines.
“I feel like this cull is just coming out of fear and is a knee-jerk reaction by politicians because they feel like they have to do something.”
Luckily, this injured shark survived. “Everyone was starting to think it was time to give up,” Wilkins said. “Then it gave a kick, then a couple more big kicks and then it swam off. It was really classic.”